Coercion in England
The Workers’ Republic, 17 July 1915.
From P.J. Musgrove (ed.), James Connolly: A Socialist and War (1914-1916), London 1941, a collection of Connolly’s anti-war articles published on behalf of the Communist Party of Great Britain shortly before the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
The notes from this edition are included because of their historical interest.
Transcription & HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Two weeks ago  we ventured to predict that the power given to the Government under the Munitions Bill would prove to be disastrous to Labour, and we asserted that the British Labour leaders in voting for the Bill, and agreeing to its restrictions, were basely betraying their class interests. Already these statements are fully borne out. The action taken by the Government against the miners of South Wales is the grossest and most unjustifiable attack upon the right of combination any Government has attempted in these islands for generations. Let us quietly sum up the situation:
The miners of the South Wales coalfield have demanded an increased wage, and the revision of agreements made in time of peace, which latter they hold are entirely inapplicable now. The President of the South Wales Miners’ Federation, interviewed in London on Tuesday, said that the men’s representatives had analysed the figures supplied by the employers to the Government, and proved that the increased cost of producing coal since the war began had not exceeded 5d. per ton. But on the other hand the mine-owners had made this small increase a pretext for an increase of prices of an additional 7s. per ton on large coal and 5s. per ton on small coal, and out of this great increase of prices the miners had received no increase in wages.
Now when the miners threaten a stoppage to enforce their claims the Government declare a strike illegal, and proclaim the whole South Wales Mining area.
Surely a more flagrant case of partiality and class bias was never before exhibited. It means that the employing class have been systematically using the pretext of the war in order to increase their profits; that while the working class was sending their best blood and flesh to the trenches the employers were quietly robbing the helpless ones left behind; it means that this most awful of all wars has been used by a heartless gang of bloodsuckers to enable them to plunder with impunity, and that whilst they rioted in the plunder of the poor, the Government looked smilingly on, but as soon as the poor commenced to call a halt to the plunder, the same Government ordered out its soldiers, and denounced as ‘treason’ the attempts of the workers to protect their interests.
Good luck to the Welsh miners! Good luck to all who attempt to stem the tide of tyranny and robbery which, under cover of military safety, is allowed to run unchecked throughout the length and breadth of the land. Such revolts will serve to unmask the real enemy, serve to show how they who are loudest in denouncing militarism are the quickest to use it to keep their poorer fellow-citizens in the chains the master class are forging for the nation!
1. See the article, The Right to Strike.
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Last updated on 14.8.2003